Category Archives: News at The Vineyard

Third Annual Wine Festival

A round up of last weeks wine festival. A fantastic event we hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did!


The Third Annual Wine Festival – Positive Post Mortem!

The bottles have been consumed, the glasses washed and returned, and many satisfied customers are now awaiting their purchases to be delivered. I guess from any angle, the wine festival can be adjudged a success…

On Saturday 27th October, around 150 guests arrived at The Vineyard to taste their way through upwards of 100 wines. In actuality, the exuberance of the suppliers (myself included) meant that just short of 160 wines were opened. There really was just about every style from every wine producing country represented. Whilst I missed the first hour (presenting an on-air wine tasting to BBC Radio Berkshire’s Henry Kelly a.k.a. “Going For Gold”), the day really came into full swing in the afternoon, with a crowded room of enthusiastic critics. It was a good day.

Difficult to pin down individual successes now I’ve analysed what sold and what didn’t, but the New World probably came out on top in terms of bottles taken home, although France claimed the fizz sales with some great Champagnes being opened. South Africa did well in both red and white, and our organic/biodynamic supplier sold many bottles of unfiltered, unsulphured cloudy stuff which I was delighted about. Sometimes organic wines seem not quite as “polished” as their more sterile counterparts, but the taste sensation is almost always better.

Masterclasses were held throughout the day covering such topics as glassware, dinner party wines and how to taste wine professionally. Yohann was kept busy throughout the day answering anything and everything about wine and Daniel produced really quite stunning charcuterie and cheese plates.

Finally, as a true testament to the spirit of the day and the ardent will of our guests, the spittoons remained largely unused…

It was fun. We’ll do it again in 2013. See you there

James Hocking

Director of Wine
The Vineyard Cellars

My Visit to Shanghai

Two weeks ago, I travelled to Shanghai for the Chinese Sommelier 2012 competition, as well as several visits to vineyards in the region. The experience was amazing and very inspiring.

On 25th of September, I was on the judging panel for the Best Sommelier of China 2012. Previous to my arrival, 10 candidates had been selected from the regional finals to take part in the semi finals in Shanghai. The day was filled with activities and challenges throughout the day.


The competition started at 8am with a theory paper as well as two blind wines to taste. The candidates had one hour to complete the two tasks.

The next part was a practical test separated over 3 tables:

  • Table 1: Champagne exercise – opening and serving Champagne
  • Table 2: Decanting and serving red wine
  • Table 3: Food and wine matching

Following the morning activities, three candidates were selected to compete for the final round in the afternoon.


The final round was a performance on stage in front of an audience, and included the following tasks:

  • Beverage service
  • Food and wine matching
  • White wine pouring
  • Decantation and pouring of a red wine
  • Wine list correction
  • Blind wine tasting
  • Blind spirit tasting
  • Champagne pouring from a magnum bottle

After these numerous challenges, the judges got together to reveal a winner – Miss Guo Ying! It was the second year in a row that a woman won! It is great to see this trend increasing and to see more and more female sommeliers.

Congratulations again to Miss Guo Ying for beating the other sommeliers and receiving the winning title of Chinese Sommelier of the Year 2012!

For more information, visit the wine page on our website:

Yohann Jousselin, MS

Head Sommelier at The Vineyard

Yohann’s Visit to Bordeaux

Three weeks ago, I went to Bordeaux to visit a number of great wineries in the region. I also took part in the famous Medoc marathon in the small town of Pauillac; it was a marathon unlike any other.

Each person takes their time completing the distance as there are several stations set up throughout to taste wines, oysters and beef snacks, as well as 59 wineries to visit. The entire marathon takes an average of 6 hours to finish,and nobody is in a rush! This was a great experience in terms of networking, but it also helped me to deepen my knowledge of Bordeaux vineyards and what they have to offer. I will definitely consider doing this event again next year, although I hope the weather will be slightly milder considering the 35ºC we had to run with this time!

Here are some of the great wines I tasted during the marathon:

  • Haut Marbuzet 2009
  • Haut Marbuzet 1988
  • Haut Marbuzet 1970
  • Chateau Bauduc 3 Hectares Blanc 2010
  • Langoa Barton 2006
  • Baron de Brane 2010
  • Brane Cantenac 2005

While in Bordeaux I had a chance to visit some of the following vineyards:

  • Chateau Bauduc – Entre 2 Mers
  • Chateau Haut Marbuzet – St Estephe
  • Chateau Leoville Barton – St Julien
  • Chateau Brane Cantenac – Margaux

All in all, it was an extremely enjoyable experience and I would definitely recommend it to any wine lovers who are interested in taking on a challenge!

Yohann Jousselin MS                                                                                     

Head Sommelier

James Hocking: A Chevalier of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne

On Monday 9th July, I was invited to London to be “inducted” into a rather special “club”. This being the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. Whilst those of you who know me will be wondering why I’m doing something non-Californian (!), our connections with Champagne at The Vineyard are immense, encompassing Champagne Taittinger, Champagne Gremillet, and a raft of others.

The role of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne is to promote the wines of Champagne, their unique features, their ways of consumption and everything which contributes to their reputation and their image as the most prestigious symbol of success and celebration. Its mission is to contribute to the dissemination of essential information concerning the wines of Champagne by creating and motivating a network of staunch supporters (professional restaurateurs, sommeliers, connoisseurs and personalities from the world of politics, media, stage and screen), most notably through Champagne-led events throughout the world.

Around 1650 young aristocrats at the court of Louis the XIVth, amongst whom were Mortemart, Ollonne, Brousse and the satirist Saint-Evremont, founded an elegant academy dedicated to good wines. They were all famous wine connoisseurs and were particularly fond of the champagne wines from the three “coteaux” (hillsides) Ay, Avenay and Hautvillers. Hence the name given to this association “Ordre des Coteaux”. It disappeared shortly before the revolution.

In 1956 a group of “champenois” led by Roger Gaucher and Francois Tatittinger in particular, who did the historical research, decided to revive the original “Ordre des Coteaux”.

At the dinner, which followed the intronisation ceremony, jeroboams and magnums of Champagnes Deutz, Drappierand Taittinger were served to accompany the food. I felt proud to have been asked to join the Ordre (in the rank of Chevalier), and am looking forward to assisting further with the promotion of what must be the world’s ultimate celebration wine…

First picture –  James Hocking, Director of Wine at The Vineyard Group and Justin Llewelyn – UK, Ireland & Channel islands Ambassador, Champagne Taittinger and Consul General, Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne.

Californian sparkling wine offer and free delivery: Enjoy 10% off one of our new arrivals – Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc 08, until 31st August 2012 and take advantage of free delivery when you spend over £150. Please quote ‘blanc08‘ at checkout. Visit The Vineyard Cellars website now.

James Hocking

Director of Wine
The Vineyard Cellars
The Vineyard

The Judgement of Paris — 1976’s Famous Blind Wine Tasting

In 1976, in small room in a Paris hotel, a strange thing happened. Something that changed a centuries-old status quo and rocked the ‘civilised’ world to it’s roots. In a blind tasting with some of the leading French wine aficionados of the day, Californian wines were chosen over France’s very best. Big names were knocked right out of the park in a comprehensive whooping. Visit our website and watch the video to discover more.

The Food at The Vineyard

If you haven’t seen already The Vineyard has a new look and feel! The entrance has been totally refurbished and an impressive glass-floored wine vault now takes centre stage! Go through the wine vault to ‘Taste’, an ideal space to enjoy a glass of wine and of course to sample some of my latest dishes. Taste is also home to the magnificent Judgement of Paris painting by artist, Gary Myatt.

I have been working hard to create dishes that are tasty, simple, sustainable and fresh. We have created various menus making the dining experience at The Vineyard a little more flexible, relaxed and enjoyable. This gives diners the opportunity to taste different foods, mix dishes and most importantly taste a variety of wines that The Vineyard offers, which can be matched to your dish by our sommeliers, or wine coaches as we call them.

One of my favourite dishes on the current seasonal menu is line caught pan-roasted turbot, spiced bread, courgette. This would be perfectly paired with a William Selyem, Pinot Noir Ferrington Vineyard, California 1999.

Discover more about my current dishes by visiting our Menus page or book a table and come a try a plate or two!

Daniel Galmiche
Executive Chef
The Vineyard

A new look for The Vineyard

The 13th June saw the unveiling of the new-look public spaces at The Vineyard. With over 150 people attending the launch including friends, family and local business people there was definitely a buzz about the place.

Our public space including the reception, bar and casual dining area has been transformed, so now as guests walk through our doors, they will instantly see why we are called The Vineyard.

A dramatic new painting depicting the infamous Judgement of Paris wine tasting in 1976, an impressive glass-floored wine vault containing over 880 bottles giving guests the opportunity to see down to our cellar, and a brand new menu concept are just some of the exciting changes we’ve made.

On the evening of the launch party, Sir Peter gave an informed and entertaining speech about the famous Judgement of Paris wine tasting so guests could understand why Sir Peter commissioned such an impressive painting to depict the event.

As the doors of the wine vault were opened, guests were met with the stunning piece painting adorning the wall in front of them. Guests admired piece of art work painted by artist, Gary Myatt, and the new Taste room as this too has been refurbished throughout.

Now onto the really fun bit of the evening – the blind wine tasting! Guests were given the opportunity to taste two white wines and two red and vote for their favourites. We couldn’t have asked for a more diplomatic result – the French white and the Californian red won the night!

The white wines tasted were:

  • Bourgogne, Chardonnay,Vincent Girardin, Burgundy, France, 2010
  • Waterstone, Chardonnay, Napa, CA, 2010

And the reds:

  • Waterstone, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, CA, 2007
  • St Émilion, Vieux Château Negrit, Bordeaux, France, 2009

The launch party was a huge success and the team at The Vineyard is looking forward to many more events being held at the hotel in future.

Keep an eye on our new website for news of the exciting wines being lined up for this year’s Vineyard Wine Festival on 26th-27th October. Tickets will be limited.

For more information on The Vineyard, please visit:

A time for change

Why it was time to change

Since opening over a decade ago, we’ve been passionate about wine here at The Vineyard. Last year, we decided it was time to share our enthusiasum, knowledge and expertise of wine with all our guests and really get the message out there.

With a successful winery in California, an award winning wine list, a friendly, knowledgeable sommelier team, headed up by UK Sommelier of the Year 2011, Yohann Jousselin MS, over 30,000 bottles in our wine cellar and an extensive wine events programme, we realised we had lots to shout about!

Exciting changes we’ve made

So we’ve had quite an exciting year, making significant changes to our overall look and feel. Our public space, including the reception, bar and casual dining area, has been transformed, so from the end of May, as you walk through our doors, you will instantly see why we are called The Vineyard. An impressive wine vault containing over 880 bottles with a large, glass floor giving you the opportunity to see down to our cellar is just one of the exciting changes we’ve made.

The new menu

And that’s not all. We’ve re-designed our menu so you can enjoy, taste and try more flavours and exciting food combinations than a traditional menu. So as a guide we’d suggest five dishes per person, which would be more or less the same as a three course meal.

Executive Chef, Daniel Galmiche would describe his food as modern, French cuisine with a Mediterranean touch, and with this in mind has created 18 new delicious dishes, some savoury, some sweet, so you can enjoy as many as you like that take your fancy any time of the day.

Have fun wine matching

We’ve spent the time matching wines to these great dishes too so have fun trying new food and wine combinations in the relaxed company of friends and family. Whatever your knowledge of wine, Yohann, our Head Sommelier and team of wine coaches will happily advise you and recommend the very best wines to drink with any of the dishes available.

The new website and photos of the new space are coming soon, so watch this space.

We hope to see you soon.

Hayden Bowl
General Manager
The Vineyard